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2018 Yamaha XVS650 | Bike Tests | Gassit Garage | Latest Tests | Long Term

Yamaha’s XVS650 Custom may just be the perfect introduction to a life on two wheels

I got another call from Dobie to do another test. And, having learnt the importance of an open mind after my Suzuki Burgman experience I was rather pumped.

“It’s a cruiser – a 650 cruiser,” he said.

I played it cool, but between you and me, it was not only going to be the first time sampling a feet-forward cruiser-style machine, it was going to be the first time I had been let loose on the road with a manual gearbox at my disposal – I was bouncing off the walls!

When I went to pick up the XVS, I couldn’t see it. And then I heard that sweet but deep sound of the 649cc air-cooled V-twin engine. The hairs on the back of my neck instantly stood up; ‘Wow,’ I thought. ‘Is that for me?!’ And then I saw it, in all its bigger-than-expected custom glory, idling away in front of me, waiting for me to cruise off into the distance.

What had I got myself into? How the hell am I am going to ride this thing?!

I loved the look of it, all blacked out and retro-looking thanks to its predominately black subframe, black handlebars, black clutch cover and black fork legs, all made ever more blacker  by the subtle dots of chrome all over. Shiny twin exhausts, forks and a chrome headlight surround had it twinkling in my eye.

Yamaha has made this LAMS-approved cruiser even more appealing by shortening both the front and rear fenders and giving the XVS a distinct bobber look. This thing was right up my alley. But if it’s the classic cruiser look you’re after, don’t worry, Yamaha still offers that with the XVS650 Classic. It has a lot more chrome too, with the fork lowers, handlebars and clutch cover all glistening chrome, as well as the entire headlight and twin-pipe exhaust system. Throw on a large screen and a couple of panniers and there’d be more than a few people who’d mistake it for Harley-Davidson Softail Heritage Classic.

Speaking of old-school, one thing I did find interesting is that the XVS650 range is one of the very few that still incorporates a carburettor instead of opting for a modern and more efficient fuel injection system.

Customising the custom

There is a vast range of accessories from Yamaha’s Y-Shop to further personalise or custom your XVS650. If I had either one of the bikes parked in my garage, this is what I’d add from the long list of available bits:

Cruiselite Classic Saddlebags  $637.16

The Custom just wants to cover kays, so luggage would be a must for my XVS. Yamaha has a range of luggage for the XVS models, however I like the clean and subtle look of the Cruiselite Classic Saddle Bag. They’re not cheap, but they’d be worth every cent for those long haul rides without wrecking the sleek look of the bike. There’s also a studded version, if you’re into that sort of thing, for an extra $37.

Star Billet Mirrors $254.17

I wasn’t a fan of the square mirrors. To give the bike a more aggressive personality, while still maintaining excellent visibility, Yamaha has two different shaped mirror options on offer. An oval-shape mirror and a tear-drop shaped mirror – I’ll have the tear drop, thanks!

Passenger floorboard $337.94

A happy wife is a happy life, so to improve passenger comfort, I’d replace the passenger foot pegs with floorboards. They come in a couple of colours, but I’d go with the Midnight Black affairs – not only would they better suit the blacked-out bobber look, but they’d better blend into the frame when I’m riding solo. They’re made of die-cast aluminium construction with moulded rubber inserts that feature the firm’s Star logo.

Rider floorboards

Yamaha doesn’t yet offer a rider foot board, but I reckon there’s someone who does, and it’s something I’d also add. Not that the stock foot pegs are not comfortable to ride with, they suit its purpose just fine. But if I am going to look after my passenger with some shit hot floorboards, then I want some too!

As appeared in AMCN Vol 68 No 04

  Test Dale Johnson    Photography Zane Pavelic